10 churches destroyed in Aceh, Indonesia

A church was burnt to the ground in Aceh Singkil in the province of Aceh, Indonesia last month, and a further nine churches destroyed by police.

The Guardian reported that earlier in October the local religious harmony forum (FKUB) decided that ten of the 22 churches in the district would be torn down because they did not have the proper permit as a house of worship.

Open Doors reported that a mob of hundreds of Muslims, citing a lack of permits, burnt down the International Christian Church in the days following the decision of the FKUB, which forced thousands of Christians to flee.Indonesia_2015_0500100301

Armed police and military troops were dispatched to the area and those who fled have been able to return home.

Religious tensions are high in Aceh, the only province in Indonesia to have implemented Islamic Sharia law after being granted autonomy in 2005.Indonesia_2015_0500100306


As the police took sledgehammers to nine other churches – mostly small wooden structures – congregation members stood by and wept.Indonesia_2015_0500100324

The remaining churches in Aceh Singkil have been given six months to apply for a permit.

The agreement to demolish unregistered churches is partly driven by a ministerial decree from 2006, instructing worship houses to obtain a religious building license. The National Commission of Human Rights estimates that over 80 per cent of worship houses in the country lack proper licensing including mosques.Indonesia_2015_0500100321

Images: Open Doors Australia